Appointment of Coral Sanfeliu, Group leader
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Current research

Problem

The social and health improvements of recent decades have led to a significant increase in the life expectancy of the population, and these advances have been accompanied by an important rise in the incidence of diseases associated with age.

Lifestyle can also lead to unhealthy habits and environments. Most neurons in the brain age with us and, over time, memory and dementia issues may appear. In view of this scenario, new therapies are needed to prevent or decrease the onset of neurodegenerative changes.

Approach

The group uses animal models, cell cultures, and samples of human tissue to investigate neuroprotection and prevention therapies in the face of neurological lesions and cognitive loss.

Studying the mechanisms of neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's disease has allowed the group to define targets in the prevention of pathological brain ageing: some of these targets are changes in the brain such as the accumulation of abnormal proteins, inflammation, oxidative stress and decreased neurotrophic factors. The strategy is to strengthen the cellular mechanisms of defence against these processes with new drugs or therapies.

Impact

The group has obtained neuroprotection by activating mechanisms against the accumulation of anomalous proteins that causes Alzheimer's. In doing so, it has observed cognitive improvement in Alzheimer's disease model mice. It is interesting to confirm that these mechanisms were also activated in healthy mice. Therefore, it might be possible to achieve a preventive effect and brain resilience.

The group wants to define the most powerful therapies that activate these molecular resilience pathways and, also, the influence of the environment and of lifestyle in neurodegenerative diseases.